History Steps Lively to Drums Along the Mohawk

Drums Along the Mohawk is an historical novel of New York’s Mohawk Valley during the Revolution.

In 1776, Gilbert Martin and his bride, Lana, set up their new frontier home in the Mohawk Valley west of Schenectady. British troops and their Indian allies attack repeatedly, wiping out settlements, taking scalps, leaving survivors to starve. Gil and Lana lose a baby as their farm goes up in smoke.

Unable to farm his land, Gil takes over running a wealthy widow’s farm. Even her wealth is no defense against the enemy’s scorched-earth policies.

Congress compounds the settlers’ misery by imposing taxes, issuing worthless currency, and paying the militia poorly, if at all.

Faced with starvation, the farmers fight back.

Drums Along the Mohawk is an easy way to get a grasp of the Revolution as seen from the man-in-the-field perspective. Walter D. Edmonds drew heavily on contemporary documents, inventing only the major characters to tie the facts together.

Edmonds accuracy is both bane and blessing. As long as he keeps his focus on Gil and Lana, the story is compelling. When he shifts focus away from them to national politics, the novel implodes. We’re left with just a pile of historical notes.

Drums Along the Mohawk
By Walter D. Edmonds
Little, Brown, 1936
592 pages
#5 on the 1937 bestseller list
My grade: B
© 2007 Linda Gorton Aragoni

Published by

Linda Aragoni

I'm passionate about helping people learn through the medium of nonfiction writing. Although I occasionally have an idea of my own, I mostly build education tools by recycling and repurposing other folks' ideas.

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